Fine Lines

Disclaimer: This social eReader program I'll be working with over the next few months is launching this weekend, and they asked me to write about the launch. Instead, I decided to write something niceish about my mom. However, they're having a Mother's Day sale with 50% off all ebooks so if you didn't get your mom/baby momma a gift, A) you suck and B) you can get her a nice, inexpensive book through their social eReader here

When I became a mother 14 years ago, I stopped having the black and red film-grained Robert Rodriguez style dream about murdering my own mother. I stopped dreaming about getting caught in a mudslide engulfing the home I lived in with both of my parents until I was six once I stood in the field where that house once stood

Time gave me the ability to dream my way through most of the after-shocks of our life together. Twenty Mother's Days later, I'm almost not angry anymore. Twenty Mother's Days later, I can think about her and not feel hate or confusion or sadness, and thanks to the wonder of blogging, I can look back just four short years and see how far I have come with this.

Twenty Mother's Days later, I can remember things about her that were beautiful.  

I remember the sweetly salted heady scent of the sides of her breast, the space between where her nightgown ended and her flesh began, where I would tuck myself into her soft, ivory rolls and listen to her read us stories, her voice so beautiful the words on the pages rolled off her lips like a song. 

My mother didn't let us read children's books - she said they insulted our intelligence. She also thought a whole lot of them were demonic and/or homosexual, which in her tragically broken mind were equally dangerous threats. Instead we read the Bible, which isn't the least bit traumatic to children oh no, and - here's the one thing that woman did so very right - she read us her books. 

She would read to us whenever she was sane enough to. Twenty years ago, I couldn't have remembered this. I think I only do now because I still read her books. 

If she'd read me a Golden Books Grover story, I would have long ago forgotten this. Instead, she read me The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy and The History of Physics, over and over again until I could read those books myself, alone in my room, from memory. For her, it was just the choice to read us clever, intellectual things, but for me, it was begin gifted the one perfect, unbroken piece of her to keep forever, untarnished and alive on the pages of those books. 

There's a fine line between genius and insanity; my mother is living proof of that. 

Because of her genius, I've always read my kids my favorite books, from the time they were babes in arms: Alice in Wonderland, The Phantom Tollbooth, World War Z, and of course, The Hitchhiker's Guide. Because of her insanity, I got to discover Shel Silverstein with my kids, and Robert Munsch and Maurice Sendack and everything in between. So that worked out okay.

My kids have never, and will never, meet my mother. I will never see her again, so long as we both shall live. The only way I can ever give them a piece of her is to share this gift she gave me with them, and so when we can, we snuggle up on the couch, me just soft and round enough for them to sink into, them still just small enough to fit under the fold of my arm, and we read together. 

And somehow, oddly, she's there with us. And I'm okay with that. 

Here, There and Everywhere

So, tomorrow is Mother's Day. I want Morris Chestnut; I'll settle for a nap, thank you very much.

Megan from Velveteen Mind asked me to share a little bit of my story for a Mother's Day blog carnival about Heart and the Art of Parenthood. My story is here, and so are ones from Jessica of Balancing Everything, Ron from Clark Kent's Lunchbox, Leslie from Mrs Flinger, Lucrecer Braxton from Art Slam, Michele Lamar from v3 Marketing and Maya from Think Maya.

We'd love to hear your story, too. Click over to share yours, and have a wonderful Mother's Day. Or Sunday. Or nap. Or Morris Chestnut. But I don't want to hear about that.

*Yeah, I'd totally just post it here and save you the click, but I was compensated for the post and ad contracts be ad contracts, yo.

It's Not a Black and White World

I'm not one to make a huge fuss about mother's day, for a few reasons, the biggest one being that I am not the mother of the person who'd ultimately have to go all out to make the magic happen.  I usually just cook breakfast crepes and then open my presents that the kids made me in class.  And anything else that might happen to show up.

Mother's Day, 2008.  Yum.

2008; that was a nice year.  *ahem*  And then The Donor goes to work in the afternoon and the kids and I watch some wholy inappropriate movie before bed. 

It works for us.

I could tell you all about how the actual mother of the guy who'd ultimately have to go all out to make the magic happen was with us for Mother's Day, and that same guy had to go into work at 10 in the morning.  And that she had to board a cruise ship at one to get on her way to Alaska for the summer, so all my plans got delayed.  And how it turned out that only her bags had to be checked by one and we had until three together. And how my head almost exploded.

But I'd be remiss if I didn't mention that because of this, we had time for a lunch by the fountains and some serious discussions in past and future tense.

Peas and Cues
Present, Past and Future Tenses

I could tell you how everyone got sick and tired of me hiding behind my camera preserving the moment in pictures and right as this one turned to tell me to knock it off in exactly those words, right in the middle of my goddamn picture, I realized that there was a clean and easy way out of this whole Motherfucker's Day debacle. And then I read the sign.

Throw mama from the rail

And I could tell you how I let her live and as luck would have it, we managed to survive just long enough for everyone to still be completely die-ablely adorable for one last fucking picture that I was taking dammit and you'd better smile, so help me god.

The Fam

Four out of five isn't half bad.  But, of course, I'd need to point out that the camera I was hiding behind all day was shiny and new and started in a D and ended in an SLR and was almost more fun than the can of cool whip from the year before.  Almost.


And I suppose I could tell you that the suddenly less cute than before video store guy still charged me $34 for my overdue movies even though it was Mother's Day and that I decided to plant flowers rather than go to the grocery store for dinner stuff to make it all better.  And then I could tell you that The Donor and I got into our Annual Fight over the fact that he'd actually wanted to cook me dinner when he came home from work and couldn't because I was covered in mud and worms and fertilizer and our fridge was covered in cobwebs and tumbleweeds.

But then I'd have to add that he ended up taking all of us out to dinner at 7pm on a school night and we had a really good time and I had a really good margarita. 

Until 3of3 decided throw her face at the cobblestone sidewalk, and oh how she succeeded.

And I could tell you that the night ended with her screaming herself to sleep and the boys fighting until they passed out and The Donor crashing out on the couch, but the truth is that he woke up and gave me something in addition to the camera that had come this week, something that had just been cut that day.


And also something that had been cut way back in the year we'd first met.


Which is disgustingly romantic and made me a very happy momma, indeed.  Mission accomplished.

And now for the fluff

Well, that was enough seriousness to last me a lifetime. Moving on...

What happens when you plan a Mother's Day outing for the family including Robert Downey Jr., your entire family, including one toddler, at just about exactly naptime? You get to stay home with the pissy toddler while your boys go drool over Robert for two hours. I am just guessing here, but I'd bet his dreaminess was slightly lost on them.

Definitely long. Potentially worth it. Iron Man would've been almost as awesome.

Mothers Day Eggs from Mr Lady on Vimeo.

What happens when you drag two of your blogmomma friends downtown for dinner and drinks, and go somewhere you've never been before but you hear is pretty good? You end up in jeans and tshirts in a restaurant where they are, at a moments notice, prepared to serve The Queen with almost no transition, where they have warmed handtowels instead of paper towels and French imported rosemary handsoap that smelled like heaven and cost about as much in the washroom, where not one thing on the menu has less than 6,000 ingredients, and the tell you every single one of them, THREE TIMES OVER, where you have to check your wallet to be sure you brought enough cash to be allowed to walk in the front door, where you sit with two good friends and gigglegigglegiggle anyway and magically forget that you landed in perhaps the wrongest place you possibly could have because you picked the right people to spend your Mother's Day with. Oh, and you eat ridiculously tasty food.

Most importantly, do you know what happens when you send your husband to the grocery store at 10 a.m. on Mother's Day morning because you forgot something for the crepes? This happens. And it was the best present ever.*

*The picture, pervs, getting the PICTURE was the best present ever. Sheesh.

Long Overdue

Dear Pat,

Today is my 16th Mother’s Day without you. To be fair, I have actually had 32 Mother’s Days without you, because you never let us celebrate them, did you? But here we are, as many Mother’s Days away from each other as we spent together.

I can’t begin to imagine what you are doing today. I think you’ll sit in your recliner, playing video games or watching TV. The last time I saw you, Al Gore hadn’t given us the internet yet and Nintendo had just recently released Tetris, which totally consumed you (and half of America.) I bet you are in Big-Pink-Puffy-Heart love with the internet now.

Today, I am taking my three children to see Iron Man. Do you know I have three children? I do, and they look a lot like you sometimes. They ask about you occasionally, and I have never known what to say to them to make them understand. I don’t think I ever will.

I find that it is easier most times to imagine that you are dead. I write these letters semi-annually, and I never have anywhere to send them. I mailed you that one 6 years ago, on the anniversary of our first decade apart, but since then you have moved from the only house I’d ever known as home, and I have no address for you now. I am left to write you these letters, knowing that you’ll never get them, and I secretly wish I had some tombstone to lay them in front of, some marker in a cold, forgotten yard that I could take them to, hand them off, and be done with this. It’s a heavier burden to bear than I’ll ever admit to anyone, this dragging you around with me.

I’ve been thinking a lot about what I know about being a mother, a wife, a human, a woman; naturally my thoughts come back to you. You had 16 short years to pull and tug and mold and shape me, and I have to give you credit for packing a lifetime of lessons into what I know now was just a blink of an eye.

I learned things from you that I don’t know I would have learned without you, without having had you as a mother specifically. I think about my oldest son, and how he wants to learn everything. He wants flute lessons and saxophone lessons and hockey lessons and science camp in the summer. You taught me that a child like that, like I was, will learn no matter how much you ignore their requests. They will find a way. Because of you, I almost never say no to him when it comes to learning. I’ll do whatever I have to do to get him the coach or the tutor or the equipment. I learned how to say no from you, but more importantly I learned that sometimes, it’s really important to not say no after all.

I watch my middle son testing everything in his path, pushing his limits, and mine, too. I sit waiting as he slowly tries to dismantle every system, debunk every theory, rebel against every authority figure. I watch him learn manipulation. I take special note during the times when his sly antics give way to his inherent eight year old nature, and when he gets downright disrespectful and awful, I remember how I learned from you that a belt on the bottom is much more powerful a tool than a strongly worded lecture or a smack on the hand. And then I remember what it felt like to have my skin ripped open, and the smell of my own blood, and the terror of total helplessness, and I find patience inside of myself and the realization that my child, who you would probably label as “damned,” is really just amazingly creative and intelligent and, well, eight. And eight is alright just the way it is.

I watch my daughter, the baby who is certainly not a baby anymore, and I see her becoming a girl already. There are shimmers of the woman she will be already reflecting in her eyes. She is the feistiest thing you’d ever meet, headstrong, defiant, sassy, and beautiful in a way that few people ever are. Every now and then, just for a moment, I feel in myself what I imagine you felt when you looked at me; resentment. I never had that thing she’s got when I was a girl; that confidence, that sure nature, that comfortableness. She is pretty hot shit, that kid, and don’t think she doesn’t know it. And I envy her that sometimes. I think about how hard you worked to be sure that I knew what a woman’s place was, and that I knew I was gangly, awkward and next to worthless, and in that you taught me humility, which I work so hard every day to instill in my own children. What I took away from you was the awareness of what was teaching humility and what was destruction. I see the line where you couldn’t. I am not afraid of my daughter the way you were, afraid of her becoming more of a person that I will ever be able to. I insist she does, actually. I am determined to help her with that in any way I can.

As my children grow older, and being to grasp the concept of the world beyond themselves, they naturally grow more and more curious about God and Spirituality. I think about how important my faith was to me as a child, my weird, backwards, twisted version of some very basic ideals that you chose to force feed us with. I am glad I had that, that I was able to learn what blind faith and abject devotion are. I am lead to wonder how you could choose your religion over your children, since my children are the only other thing that has inspired those sorts of emotions in me. You had your whole life to live and breath and soak in the world around you, and then you chose to change and were magically forgiven for all that living and breathing and soaking. You bore us and brought us up in a world that forbade looking outside the windows, having an opinion or insight or even a desire to know the things happening all around us in the world. We lived and believed and served and when it came our time to see the rest of the world, just like you had time for all those years ago, suddenly our minor transgressions, our year or two of screwing around before both my brother and I settled down, married and had our families with the very people we were screwing around with, those transgressions somehow became grander than any of yours, more unforgivable than anything you could have done. For choosing to live, you condemned us to death. You allowed your group, your religion, your beliefs, to push your children away. That I promise you I will never do. I will never indoctrinate my children. I will never tell them what to believe. I will give them options and information and I will fully support whatever road they take in their life. Whatever road. Without you, I never would have known how important it is to give my kids that sort of control over their own destinies.

You taught me that a child is capable of great things, and that a child can be totally self-sufficient if necessary. In teaching me that, you also taught me that it is very important to teach a child that they have a support structure, that they don’t have to do everything on their own. Because of you I know that something as simple as a mother’s touch can mean the difference between raising people capable of forming real, lasting relationships and raising people who grow up to afraid to reach out to anyone on any level, people who have to learn how to cope with the touch of their own children later.

Someday, I hope, I may forgive you, but I will never want to forget you, and I am not sorry for one minute of our life together. You tried with everything you had to crush me, to spite me and, I am guessing, my father through me, and all you succeeding in doing was making one very strong, very hard, very sensible woman who would walk through fire to keep those who are hers from knowing things she knows. You made someone who turned out so fine that another someone, an amazing someone that is better and finer than I could've imagined a person could ever be, saw fit to take your place 12 years later, and now not only do I have the benefit of true wisdom, experience and some serious motivation to improve every day, I have a woman in my life that I can close my eyes and pretend is my mother when I reallyreally need one. My cup is very busily runnething the hell over.

Every single thing that I am today, I am because of you. You make me try harder, think longer, scream louder for my children. Not one bit of this came naturally to me; I was never taught how to mother, I never had a role-model whose example I could follow. I have nothing to take for granted here. If I want my children to grow up strong and confident and better than I was, more than I could ever hope to be, I have to work. I have to remember every single thing you did to me and said to me and thought of me and I have to make sure I never see any of that in my mirror. It is a battle, this unlearning you, and it will never be easy. You gave me every single tool I could ever need to be the very best mother in the whole world. All I have to do is remember you every single day.

And I do. And I always will.

Kindly linked by Little Albatross and The Soul on Every Path